Ever wondered what happened to Spike Lee’s character Mookie after Do The Right Thing? Cinematic universes aren’t solely reserved for big-budget superhero films; while the MCU and DCEU are world renowned, smaller indie filmmakers have been crafting their own self-referential universes for years. Kevin Smith, for example, has his View Askewniverse and Quentin Tarantino has his interconnected Tarantino-verse. Likewise, Spike Lee has his ‘Chronicles Of Brooklyn’ universe – a series of films bound by their shared Brooklyn setting that includes She’s Gotta Have It, Crooklyn and Clockers.
Do The Right Thing – directed, written, produced by and starring Spike Lee – is another entry in the ‘Chronicles Of Brooklyn’ saga. Released in 1989, the film was inspired by the deaths of Eleanor Bumpurs and Michael Griffith and is set during a heatwave in Brooklyn’s Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood as simmering racial tensions come to a head. Spike Lee plays Mookie, a delivery man for local eatery Sal’s Famous Pizzeria whose friends Buggin’ Out (Giancarlo Esposito) and Radio Raheem (Bill Nunn) come to blows with his Italian-American boss Sal (Danny Aiello) over his refusal to put up pictures of black celebrities in his restaurant. Do The Right Thing’s cast also features Rosie Perez as Mookie’s girlfriend Tina, John Turturro as Sal’s racist son Pino and Samuel L. Jackson as local DJ Mister Señor Love Daddy.
Mookie briefly reappeared in the 2012 ‘Chronicles Of Brooklyn’ film Red Hook Summer apparently still delivering pizzas for Sal, which seemed strange considering the conclusion of Do The Right Thing. At the end of the film, Radio Raheem is killed by a cop and his death incites a riot during which Mookie throws a trashcan through the window of Sal’s restaurant which is subsequently destroyed by the rioters. Mookie and Sal parted on pretty tense terms and Sal’s Famous Pizzeria was left gutted by fire, which had Lee fans wondering how the pair ended up working together again some twenty-odd years later.
Spike Lee helpfully offered some intel as to what had happened between Mookie and Sal during the intervening 20 years between Do The Right Thing and Red Hook Summer in an exclusive 2012 interview with IndieWire:
“Sal left Bed-Stuy. If he would have known it’d be gentrified he would have stayed. Sal, with insurance money, rebuilt his place from the ground up, in Red Hook. And he was having trouble with the Mexicans he hired, they just couldn’t deliver like Mookie. They always get the wrong address, pizza’s cold, people complaining. So Sal called Mookie, who’s unemployed at the time. And Mookie said ‘I’ll think about it, [but] you’ve got to make sure that me and Pino (John Turturro‘s character in the 1989 film) are straight’ What really made Mookie take the job is that Sal finally put sisters and brothers up on the wall.”
However, Red Hook Summer wasn’t the last time Mookie resurfaced. A few years ago, Lee rebooted his 1986 feature film debut She’s Gotta Have It as a Netflix TV series. Like the original film, the series focuses on a Brooklyn-based artist named Nola Darling (DeWanda Wise) who juggles dating three very different men – the carefree Mars Blackmon (Anthony Ramos), the cocky Greer Childs (Cleo Anthony) and the thoughtful Jamie Overstreet (Lyriq Bent). In a season 2 episode of She’s Gotta Have It, Rosie Perez reprised her Do The Right Thing character Tina – who just so happened to be Mars’ mom – and informed Mars his biological father was none other than Mookie. In an interesting bit of symmetry, Lee himself portrayed the original Mars in the She’s Gotta Have It movie in 1986.
Unfortunately, She’s Gotta Have It was cancelled after its second season so the issue of Mars’ paternity wasn’t explored further, nor did Spike Lee reprise his Do The Right Thing character in the show. However, that doesn’t mean we won’t see more of Mookie in future Spike Lee films.